Utah pilots take to skies with the new F-35

By Nate Carlisle

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: April 24, 2014 10:22PM
Updated: April 24, 2014 10:05PM
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Courtesy Staff Sgt. Christina Judd | U.S. Air Force Hill's F-16 flies with the F-35 Lightning II, in a training mission at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Thursday, April 24, 2014. Hill sent 235 active and reserve personnel to train alongside the Air Forceís newest fighter jet.

Pilots from Utah’s Hill Air Force Base trained alongside the U.S. military’s new F-35 fighter jet for the first time Thursday.

The pilots didn’t fly the F-35 but did participate in a training mission aboard F-16s, according to an Air Force press release. The exercise was at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Hill Air Force Base is to receive a squadron of 72 F-35s next year. The jets will be flown by 388th and 419th fighter wings. Those wings flew the F-16s in Thursday’s exercise.

While the F-35 is said to be more advanced than the 3 ½ decade-old F-16s, the Air Force anticipates the two aircraft will fly combat missions together.

Hill Air Force Base already provides maintenance on the F-35.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natearlisle